It was a beautiful, crisp, fall day as I sat with recently demoted Minnesota Vikings quarterback Donovan McNabb following the team’s Friday workout in Eden Prairie, Minn.
Before we sat down, I watched him at practice, looking for signs of a bad attitude, down-in-the-dumps body language. Instead, I heard him laugh a couple of times, even booty-bump a teammate once.
Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a jolly-fest. McNabb wasn’t jamming down the Soul Train line while first-round pick Christian Ponder took reps with the first team in anticipation of his first career start on Sunday. When it was his turn to spin it, McNabb made passes both on target and errant.
But he CANNOT, for the life of him, understand why he lost his job with so much blame to go around for the Vikings’ 1-5 start. Nonetheless, the 34-year-old veteran on his third team in as many seasons is not about to let what he sees only as a temporary setback ruin his football future.
Here’s part of our Q&A session:
Oliver: I want to get to the heart of Donovan.
McNabb: To get to the heart of Donovan? That’s hard. I don’t let anybody into that.
Oliver: Let me at least get to what’s happening with you right now.
McNabb: What’s happening with me right now is that I’m at the age where I’m happy and peaceful.
Oliver: How can you be happy and peaceful?
McNabb: You have to happy and peaceful with yourself first and foremost. I’m a hard worker. I’m a competitor. Obviously with this situation going on, disappointed but yet and still I don’t let that pull me away from what my goal.
Oliver: What is your goal?
McNabb: My goal is to lead this team to where we need to be. Obviously, it’s a rough start for us. I’m truly, fully not to blame in this whole situation. It’s upsetting because the Vikings traded for me. But yet, I still try to look at a wider picture. Obviously, a rookie coming in, a first-round draft pick, 1-5 (record), you have to be able to see what the kid can do. I wanna make sure he’s prepared and ready to go and most importantly relaxed.
Oliver: It’s at your expense Donovan, you lost your job.
McNabb: It is at my expense and that’s the disappointing and frustrating part for me, obviously, because it’s at my position. But again, I take a broader approach to it. Am I upset? Yes. Am I disappointed? Yes.
Oliver: Are you hurt?
McNabb: I’m hurting in a way that people would look at it, because yes, I feel like I should still be in there.
Oliver: What if you never play another down for the Minnesota Vikings?
McNabb: If I never play another down for the Minnesota Vikings and Christian Ponder plays well then I feel like I’ve done my job.
Oliver: Your legacy? Where do you go? What if nobody calls?
McNabb: My legacy goes beyond a year-and-a-half of football. My legacy speaks of 11 full years of football in Philadelphia, 13 years in the league, six Pro Bowls, a Super Bowl appearance and five NFC championships. Those things speak a lot louder than just a year-and-a-half of football.